Gate of Heaven
The elaborately baroque gate serves as
Mary's throne. Her effigy is surrounded by stars and clouds.
Her outstretched arms suggest openness, receptiveness. The open
gate leads into an enclosed garden, symbol of her virginity. The
angel with shield and flaming sword protects the open gate, which can be
assimilated with the gates of paradise. The angel proclaims these
words, "He has opened the gates of heaven" (Psalm
78:23). On the other side of the gate we discover the presence of
the ladder of Jacob, with Jacob sleeping at its foot and angels moving
up and down (Genesis 28).
The origin of this Marian allegory can be
found in the Acts of the Council of Eplesus 431 (Homily for
the Annunciation, 428, by Proclus of Constantinople or Cyzikus).
The homily is based on Ezekiel 44:1-3, and thus alludes at the gate
which shall remain closed, since the Lord has entered by it. The
expression can be found in the "Ave Maria Stella" ("felix
porta caeli"), eighth/ninth centies, but also in the "Alma
Redemptoris" and the "Ave Regina Coelorum,"
The lemma is taken from Psalm 24, "Lift
up your heads, o gates."